• For users new and old: the forum rules were streamlined when we transitioned to the new software. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. Continued use of the forum means that you (a) know the rules, and (b) pledge that you'll abide by them. For more information, check out the OrthodoxChristianity.Net Rules section. (There are only 2 threads there - Rules, and Administrative Structure.)

Question about Psalm 50/51

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
11,723
Reaction score
30
Points
48
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Ps.51
[0] To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
[1] Have mercy on me, O God,
according to thy steadfast love;
according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
[2] Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
[3] For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
[4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment.
[5] Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
[6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
[8] Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
[9] Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
[11] Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
[12] Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
[13] Then I will teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners will return to thee.
[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
[15] O Lord, open thou my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
[16] For thou hast no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
[17] The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

[18] Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
[19] then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on thy altar.
Can anyone explain to me the apparent contradiction in the two differently highlighted portions of this wonderful psalm?

First the psalmist has God taking no delight in sacrifice, etc.,  but then goes on to, well...it's right there in the text.

Thoughts, comments, clarification??
 

hecma925

Orthodox Taliban
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
20,884
Reaction score
711
Points
113
Age
160
Location
Wandering Fool
Sacrifice is acceptable when the heart is humble.  Think about the sacrifices of Abel and Cain.
 

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
11,723
Reaction score
30
Points
48
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
hecma925 said:
Sacrifice is acceptable when the heart is humble.  Think about the sacrifices of Abel and Cain.
But that doesn't seem to be what it says: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,.." AFTER saying that He does not delight in sacrifice (sacrifice in general, istm...)
 

scamandrius

Merarches
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
9,377
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Age
44
Location
Omaha
Even in Isaiah,  God says he does not delight in Israel's sacrifices because they have turned away. Thst would suggest God  would find  sacrifice to be acceptable if Israel turned back.  Keep in mind, too that sacrifice is mandated under the Levitical laws and those cannot be simply discarded because of what 2 prophets (David and Isaiah) had to say about the lack of humility Israel had before God. My opinion anyway.
 

Deacon Lance

Protokentarchos
Joined
Oct 26, 2002
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
37
Points
48
Age
48
Location
Washington, PA
Of course it is the opinion of scripture scholars that vs 18 & 19 were added by a later psalmist after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which seems likely since the walls of Jerusalem hadn't been destroyed yet nor had sacrifices stopped in David's time.  So David had in mind repentance of the heart as true sacrifice, the later psalmist the resumption of temple sacrifice which had been taken away.
 

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
11,723
Reaction score
30
Points
48
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Deacon Lance said:
Of course it is the opinion of scripture scholars that vs 18 & 19 were added by a later psalmist after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which seems likely since the walls of Jerusalem hadn't been destroyed yet nor had sacrifices stopped in David's time.  So David had in mind repentance of the heart as true sacrifice, the later psalmist the resumption of temple sacrifice which had been taken away.
Ah hah!  Interesting answer.  Thanks, Dn. Lance!
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
J Michael said:
Ps.51
[0] To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
[1] Have mercy on me, O God,
according to thy steadfast love;
according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
[2] Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
[3] For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
[4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment.
[5] Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
[6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
[8] Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
[9] Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
[11] Cast me not away from thy presence,
and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
[12] Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
[13] Then I will teach transgressors thy ways,
and sinners will return to thee.
[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
[15] O Lord, open thou my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
[16] For thou hast no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
[17] The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

[18] Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
[19] then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on thy altar.
Can anyone explain to me the apparent contradiction in the two differently highlighted portions of this wonderful psalm?

First the psalmist has God taking no delight in sacrifice, etc.,  but then goes on to, well...it's right there in the text.

Thoughts, comments, clarification??
The Psalmist is constrained by the Hebrew poetic form, a tight structure of couplets and triplets of four stressed syllables, the lines within which each build on another in a special, prescribed way (such as intensification of action, or closer focus of subject). However, his theme throughout the longer poem is clear, being basically his contrition, his trust in God, and, in versets such as the first you highlight, his conviction that religion without God's intervention and grace is vain.
 

scamandrius

Merarches
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
9,377
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Age
44
Location
Omaha
With regards to verses 18 and 19 being added later, following the Babylonian Captivity and the rebuilding of the temple, I would suggest that the translation cited here, i.e. "rebuild the walls of Jerusalem", lends credence to that.  However, in the Greek septuagint, the phrase is not a second person imperative, but third person which is rendered like "let the walls of Jerusalem be built up."  Could that not be understood in a metaphorical and not literal manner?
 

wgw

Taxiarches
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
5,816
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Cast adrift in a lifeboat of the SS Aurora
Deacon Lance said:
Of course it is the opinion of scripture scholars that vs 18 & 19 were added by a later psalmist after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which seems likely since the walls of Jerusalem hadn't been destroyed yet nor had sacrifices stopped in David's time.  So David had in mind repentance of the heart as true sacrifice, the later psalmist the resumption of temple sacrifice which had been taken away.
Whereas this scholarship is important, and might be correct, I fear using it exegetically because it might lead us to doctrinal innovation, to deprecate the later interpolations as "accretions" that are of no value, and to reintepret the Psalm in a manner contrary to the Patristic interpretation.  Have you read any Patristic commentaries on this Psalm, and if so, how do you reconcile them with the contemporary scholarship?  Do you think God is trying to speak to us equally in both the original and the supposed interpolation?

I believe that, perhaps unbeknownst to its author(s), stemming from 2 Peter where St. Peter observes that no prophecy is self-explanatory, this psalm is very much a Christological prophecy.
 

wgw

Taxiarches
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
5,816
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Cast adrift in a lifeboat of the SS Aurora
scamandrius said:
With regards to verses 18 and 19 being added later, following the Babylonian Captivity and the rebuilding of the temple, I would suggest that the translation cited here, i.e. "rebuild the walls of Jerusalem", lends credence to that.  However, in the Greek septuagint, the phrase is not a second person imperative, but third person which is rendered like "let the walls of Jerusalem be built up."  Could that not be understood in a metaphorical and not literal manner?
I think so, and this is one of those cases where one must agonize over the reliability of the Hebrew manuscript tradition at the time St. Jerome took a Latin snapshot of it, because I believe St. Jerome's  Latin supports the Masoretic reading here.
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
Deacon Lance said:
Of course it is the opinion of scripture scholars that vs 18 & 19 were added by a later psalmist after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which seems likely since the walls of Jerusalem hadn't been destroyed yet nor had sacrifices stopped in David's time.  So David had in mind repentance of the heart as true sacrifice, the later psalmist the resumption of temple sacrifice which had been taken away.
Scripture scholars of which tradition?

The Psalms and other literature are full of references to the Lord choosing Zion, building Zion, lifting Zion up, defending Zion, glorifying Zion, etc. It is one of the tropes of Hebrew poetry and liturgy. There is no reason in that for a scholar particularly to mark these two verses; unless, you mean, the atheistic, anti-Semitic, often-called High Modernist school that marauded all over sacred Writ in the middle of the previous century or one of their contemporary disciples.
 

MalpanaGiwargis

High Elder
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
667
Reaction score
21
Points
18
Location
Atlanta, GA
wgw said:
scamandrius said:
With regards to verses 18 and 19 being added later, following the Babylonian Captivity and the rebuilding of the temple, I would suggest that the translation cited here, i.e. "rebuild the walls of Jerusalem", lends credence to that.  However, in the Greek septuagint, the phrase is not a second person imperative, but third person which is rendered like "let the walls of Jerusalem be built up."  Could that not be understood in a metaphorical and not literal manner?
I think so, and this is one of those cases where one must agonize over the reliability of the Hebrew manuscript tradition at the time St. Jerome took a Latin snapshot of it, because I believe St. Jerome's  Latin supports the Masoretic reading here.
Actually it's the opposite case, as in both the Gallican psalter and his psalter juxta Hebraicum, St. Jerome has aedificentur ("let them be built"), which is 3rd person passive subjunctive, a decent equivalent of the Greek third person passive imperative. The Peshitta, though, does support the Masoretic, giving a straightforward peal imperative.
 

sestir

bokareis
Joined
Sep 7, 2015
Messages
286
Reaction score
5
Points
18
Location
Scania
Website
weihos.eu
[18] Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
Only ca 20 % of bible translations print an equivalent of rebuild rather than build. Where does the re- come from?
 

MalpanaGiwargis

High Elder
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
667
Reaction score
21
Points
18
Location
Atlanta, GA
sestir said:
[18] Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
Only ca 20 % of bible translations print an equivalent of rebuild rather than build. Where does the re- come from?
That's a good catch - I don't know. I suppose it must be modern exegesis reading it as post-destruction of the first temple influencing the translation. Looking at Hebrew and the ancient translations, there's nothing that requires "rebuild."
 

Deacon Lance

Protokentarchos
Joined
Oct 26, 2002
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
37
Points
48
Age
48
Location
Washington, PA
MalpanaGiwargis said:
sestir said:
[18] Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
Only ca 20 % of bible translations print an equivalent of rebuild rather than build. Where does the re- come from?
That's a good catch - I don't know. I suppose it must be modern exegesis reading it as post-destruction of the first temple influencing the translation. Looking at Hebrew and the ancient translations, there's nothing that requires "rebuild."
I don't think the build/rebuild is an indicator so much as the implication of vs 19 that offerings will resume when the walls are built/rebuilt.
 

Deacon Lance

Protokentarchos
Joined
Oct 26, 2002
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
37
Points
48
Age
48
Location
Washington, PA
Porter ODoran said:
Deacon Lance said:
Of course it is the opinion of scripture scholars that vs 18 & 19 were added by a later psalmist after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which seems likely since the walls of Jerusalem hadn't been destroyed yet nor had sacrifices stopped in David's time.  So David had in mind repentance of the heart as true sacrifice, the later psalmist the resumption of temple sacrifice which had been taken away.
Scripture scholars of which tradition?

The Psalms and other literature are full of references to the Lord choosing Zion, building Zion, lifting Zion up, defending Zion, glorifying Zion, etc. It is one of the tropes of Hebrew poetry and liturgy. There is no reason in that for a scholar particularly to mark these two verses; unless, you mean, the atheistic, anti-Semitic, often-called High Modernist school that marauded all over sacred Writ in the middle of the previous century or one of their contemporary disciples.
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant.  From memory, of the Fathers, Theodoret held this view.
 

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
11,723
Reaction score
30
Points
48
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
I certainly appreciate all the replies, so, thanks, everyone! 

After some cursory googling, I found this, from a Jewish source:
Sacrifices – No and Yes

Read alone, verses 18 and 19 reject sacrifice in favor of contrition. The final two verses seem to contradict that, and many (even a few medieval Jewish commentators) conclude that they were added after the psalm was written, either to undo the anti-sacrificial emphasis or to take into account the later destruction of the Temple (thus redefining verses 18 and 19 as a statement of accommodation to the impossibility to sacrifice, rather than an absolute undesirability of sacrifice). Moreover, verses 18 and 19 might be less a rejection than a hyperbolic statement made in order to give priority to proper affect (cf. Jer. 7:22f.).

For those reading the psalm as a unit, the last four verses are consistent either because: (1) the whole psalm is a post-Temple-destruction text, and verses 18 and 19 reflect an accommodation to the impossibility of sacrifice (as above); (2) verses 18 and 19 express prioritization, not rejection (as above); or (3) the emphasis of verses 20–21 is on authentic sacrifice (note the word “just”), which is only possible after proper contrition and intervention by God, as seen in the psalm.

  Full text here: http://psalms.schechter.edu/2011/01/psalm-51-sin-how-original-text-hebrew.html
And an Orthodox treatment of it here, which treats the final verses several pages on in the transcript.
 

sestir

bokareis
Joined
Sep 7, 2015
Messages
286
Reaction score
5
Points
18
Location
Scania
Website
weihos.eu
@Giwargis Thanks!

Benjamin J. Segal said:
Moreover, verses 18 and 19 might be less a rejection than a hyperbolic statement made in order to give priority to proper affect (cf. Jer. 7:22f.).
Both David (or pseudo-David) and Jeremiah suggest that the practice of animal sacrifice has gone too far. Instead of changing our opinions accordingly, we may explain away both statements as rhetorical devices. :Å

Jeremiah 7:22 (KJV) said:
For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices
.. but ..

Exodus 13 said:
3aAnd Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, ...

12That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD'S.
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
Deacon Lance said:
Porter ODoran said:
Deacon Lance said:
Of course it is the opinion of scripture scholars that vs 18 & 19 were added by a later psalmist after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which seems likely since the walls of Jerusalem hadn't been destroyed yet nor had sacrifices stopped in David's time.  So David had in mind repentance of the heart as true sacrifice, the later psalmist the resumption of temple sacrifice which had been taken away.
Scripture scholars of which tradition?

The Psalms and other literature are full of references to the Lord choosing Zion, building Zion, lifting Zion up, defending Zion, glorifying Zion, etc. It is one of the tropes of Hebrew poetry and liturgy. There is no reason in that for a scholar particularly to mark these two verses; unless, you mean, the atheistic, anti-Semitic, often-called High Modernist school that marauded all over sacred Writ in the middle of the previous century or one of their contemporary disciples.
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant.  From memory, of the Fathers, Theodoret held this view.
Theodoret objected to the Psalmist having the gift of prophecy on what grounds? Maybe you could do readers the courtesy of a citation.

You're being glib on too important a subject. Somebody like Hr. Dr. Tischendorf may have been baptized a Christian, and a Bp. Westcott may have risen through the ranks of a national institution termed a church, but the assumptions and formulae they followed were established by scholars of the Skeptic school (1700s) and were -- as I evidently have to repeat -- tacitly yet perfectly clearly atheistic and anti-Semitic.
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
sestir said:
Both David (or pseudo-David) and Jeremiah suggest that the practice of animal sacrifice has gone too far.
There is no possible way that a sympathetic reader with anything like a broad knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures could assent to this novel interpretation.
 
Top